With the MLB Season opening up Sunday night and nearly every Minor League season being shortly, it’s time to look at where UK alumni will be playing this year. Kentucky has players at each professional level entering the 2015 regular season. Take a look at where each professional Wildcat will be this year.
Collin Cowgill- Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels: Time at Kentucky- 2005-08
Cowgill expects to see much more playing time in the 2015 season for the Angels. The former All-American will fill a bigger role in the absence of Josh Hamilton in the Los Angeles outfield. Cowgill was drafted in 2008 and has spent time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s, New York Mets and now the Angels.
James Paxton- Pitcher, Seattle Mariners: Time at Kentucky- 2007-09
Paxton made his Major League debut in the 2013 season for the Mariners. Since his debut, Paxton has done nothing but dominate. Paxton has a career ERA of 2.66 in 17 career starts in only two seasons with Seattle. The lefty will begin the season as Seattle’s number two starter in their rotation.
Alex Meyer- Pitcher, Rochester Red Wings. Parent Club: Minnesota Twins. Time at Kentucky: 2009-11
Perhaps the top prospect to come out of Kentucky in the last few years, Meyer begins the season just a step away from the MLB. Ranked as the 30th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, Meyer will push to make the Twins’ rotation by the end of 2015.
Taylor Rogers- Pitcher, Rochester Red Wings. Parent Club: Minnesota Twins. Time at Kentucky: 2010-12
Rogers is yet another young pitcher in the Twins’ system that played underneath Gary Henderson at UK. Following a breakthrough season in 2012, Rogers posted back-to-back seasons with 11 wins and an ERA below 3.30. Rogers will begin his first year in Triple-A after starting 24 games there in 2014.
Andrew Albers- Pitcher, Buffalo Bisons. Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays. Time at Kentucky: 2005-08
Following a season pitching in Japan, Albers returns to the States with the Blue Jays. Albers pitched 60 innings for the Twins in 2013 before moving to Japan. Albers will most likely jump up and down throughout 2015 when the Major League Club needs an extra arm on their roster.
Logan Darnell- Pitcher, Rochester Red Wings. Parent Club: Minnesota Twins. Time at Kentucky: 2008-10
Darnell made his debut with the Twins in 2014 as a reliever and as a starter. In his time in the minors, Darnell has pitched in 115 games and thrown over 600 innings. The ability to go deep into games and be versatile will keep Darnell in the minds of Twins’ management.
Chris Rusin- Pitcher, Albuquerque Isotopes. Parent Club: Colorado Rockies. Time at Kentucky: 2006-09
After five seasons in the Cubs’ organization, Rusin will make the move out west. Rusin signed with the Rockies after pitching in 24 MLB games with Chicago over the last three seasons. Before being selected by the Cubs, Rusin was a First Team All-SEC Selection in 2008 for Kentucky.
Joe Blanton- Pitcher, Omaha Storm Chasers. Parent Club: Kansas City Royals. Time at Kentucky: 2000-02
The active player with the longest professional tenure is making his return to the mound in 2015. Blanton announced his retirement before last season, but signed with the Royals on a minor-league deal for this year. After being selected by the Athletics in the 2002 MLB Draft, he won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008. Blanton will attempt to reach the Majors yet again in 2015.
Luke Maile- Catcher, Durham Bulls. Parent Club: Tampa Bay Rays. Time at Kentucky: 2010-12
Maile has risen through the ranks of the Rays’ farm system quickly since being selected in the 8th round of the 2012 MLB Draft. The former Kentucky catcher had a fielding percentage of .995 in Double-A last season. Maile has a career average of .268 in the minor leagues and will make a push to find a backup role in Tampa at some point in 2015.
Part Two will follow shortly.